“Basic” New Build


In reality, not all homes are historic farmhouses or custom build. My friend and client Lauren, an architect herself with discriminating taste, found herself ready to plan a home for her large family with a basic “surburban type” builder.  Not her dream situation but Lauren is smart enough to realize the budget and the square footage were enough to “do something with” for her young family so she approached it with a grateful heart, with THE most amazing attitude, and resourceful and creative ideas. Because after all, it’s a new house y’all and she realized that…but when you have been educated and work in custom and you know what all is out there it’s a little hard not to want to incorporate all of that custom “top of the line” knowledge. But as I mentioned these type of basic builders are NOT custom, they typically do not allow changes.  The granite choice, even the paint colors are SET IN STONE….very limited! I am not even going to publish the builders name because they do not want to offer all of these choices, that is not what they do..they are not custom build.

BUT Lauren is the epitome of lovely and kind and she had a few inside connections and was able to talk them into a few small changes. Like polishing the concrete floors downstairs! Which at first I was like “ummm I’m not sure NO stain???” But Lauren had worked with a builder that had done this and done this well and boy was she right…it looks amazing! Score one for “not your average basic build!”


She also made some good basic choices like choosing to do all white walls. Add moldings and case out doors. AND Being a design guru she knows LIGHT IS EVERYTHING and choosing to do SW Alabaster walls AND trim provides a true backdrop for all of the color she knew she would be adding with rugs and textiles and her FIVE gorgeous children! And black doors…black or painted doors always elevate and this small thing (she knows the painters thought she was crazy) instantly added class.  And that’s just Lauren…she homeschools five kids and cooks constantly and yet she is walking class…in the most unsnotty, Godly way.  Her humble self deprecating humor keeps you from disliking her even know she is amazing and gorgeous and thin to boot! (sorry Lauren just had to say it you are thebomb.com)


I love this photo of the girls in the schoolroom.  The light is a knock off of the classic 3 arm french light by Serge Mouille. Sofa from Craigslist, IKEA billly bookcases line the walls with doors.

And the kitchen! No marble countertops and its still gorgeous! I can’t wait to add some color and fabric to windows!


So most of the changes and arm twisting and cookie deliveries had to do with the kitchen of course!  Lauren was planning this on a budget…a subzero and professional range are not exactly budget but she scoured craigslist and the internet and found BOTH online…hours away but she got them and stored in her old garage for MONTHS.  The day those were installed I am sure she heard angels singing.  I love it when I see someone who actually cooks ALL DAY LONG and has a heart for hospitality gets these pricey items…she will truly use them! Fitting in to their basic builder cabinets wasn’t easy but patience, kindness and maybe cookies and brownies go a long way.  You def catch more flies with sugar than vinegar as shown here!


Love the island.  Not sure how she got them to do the X but its awesome! Lights from Joss & Main, stools from amazon.  We will def being showing more of the kitchen down the road! (Once the children get off the island;) Notice the counter…again they aren’t marble but they look fine they really do the white subway and cabinets and hardware and appliances really set the tone..I can’t wait to show you more on her hardware etc. Notice how she used cup pulls on doors!


Her wall of the back covers of “Cook’s Illustrated” look so good in these ribba frames..you can also really appreciate the trim work and alabaster paint and polished floors in these photos.  Lauren has a great tutorial she found on hanging ribba frames, shown here.


And those rugs…she scours ebay sources like Mystical Rugs and Gallery99! See how she taped out even the rug…blue tape is her friend y’all…it keeps us from making costly sizing mistakes!


We also didn’t love the curve of the sofa but its a huge sofa and fits so many people which she DOES love….so the fig tree from TALL PLANTS and the gorgeous lamps (TJMaxx yall) really distract from that curve.


That fig is BIG, like 8-9 feet but the room needed it and candle the size.  They are so nice at Tall Plants and I am always amazed at the selection of topiaries, ferns and of course fiddle leaf figs..the day I was there last, they had two matching mega ones headed for the River Oaks Country Club. And they deliver around Houston.

These chairs will be slipcovered. Love that molding around fireplace.  I can’t wait to see what kind of art she creates for over mantle.  It will be abstract and have color.


I love how she has taped out her plans to add more trim for a faux paneled wall look to dress up the white walls in a subtle way. The ottoman is from craigslist as is sofa…Lauren’s sister found it on Austin Craigslist..it is a restoration hardware piece that has been recovered custom and then listed on craigslist….Lauren should do a Craigslist commercial! It’s a Kelly Wearstler fabric…ok now we don’t like you Lauren!;;

Lauren’s style is def NEW TRADITIONAL with classic rugs and colors like blues mixed with a bit of her own modern art and chic lighting. She is the master at sourcing good sconces.


I adore her master bath…the sconces are from Savoy House, Monroe Collection… and art from ebay! Absolute black granite was the only choice but wise choices on faucets and lights and backsplash saved the day.


The kids look a little over the process but I love watching Lauren enjoy each step and get in no hurry making things perfect…she knows to get the bones right and move slowly doing things right the first time….so opposite my “lipstick on a pig” move fast tendencies…i love how my clients sharpen and teach me!


Thank you Lauren and family for letting me share your home…Remember y’all, Rome wasn’t built in a day.  It takes time to build a thoughtful and collected home.  And that is okay. More than okay..it’s a blessing.

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  1. WOWZERS!!! Looks awesome!!! I of ALL people know Rome wasn’t built in a day and feel the pain!!!! But it is worth it!! What a great eye she has…and with your help…it’s perfection!!! xo

  2. So gorgeous, Holly! I can’t wait to see everything y’all do together, its going to be *magic*!!!!

  3. This is just what I needed. This house is so nice. You’d never know it was builder basic! We just bought a 3 year old home that has all white walls. We lived in a rental for the last 5 years with all white and I was dying for color….Now, I’m not sure if I should go with my first instinct and slap a lot of color on the walls or live with it a little while.

  4. Super gorgeous! Are the white drapes custom? I am so hoping that you will say y’all picked them up at Ikea so I can run out and get me some!

  5. Holly….both of you will make this place shine! So much talent there with 2 artist working towards the big picture…..can’t wait to see it finished!

  6. This home is so gorgeous and SO refreshing!! I love the traditional sensibilities mixed with modern elements! The home is so cool but gives such a comfy vibe too! I so look forward to watching this home progress and kudos to Lauren for doing all this on a budget!! Holly, I can’t wait to see what fabric you choose for the kitchen!!

  7. What a beautiful home! The kitchen is amazing, I love the big island. Can you give us the source for the light fixture in the schoolroom? Thank you!

  8. Many would feel so grateful for builder basic. I struggle with the notion that this family had to settle.

  9. Ladies, I think this kind of post is what most of us need. Many of us cannot afford high end furnishings or finishes, but I bet I, like many of us, like the look and endeavor to do it on a budget. Honestly, sometimes I don’t think paying a lot of money for something that will get used hard or you can pretty much copy isn’t worth it! This is 25 years of decorating 6 houses talking! I love all the finishes…they are timeless and classic. Beautiful job!!!

  10. I totally agree Linda and I know the homeowner does as well…she is one of the most grateful people i have ever know and i think that word appears at the top of the post. Def not settling, def blessed…but its not custom and many design blogs only discuss those kind of projects

  11. Hannah Nokes says

    This is beautiful! You have done an amazing job! Do you mind sharing the wall/trim color?

  12. I LOVE everything so far! Can’t wait to see more!!!

  13. Rachelle says

    Sure hope to see the progress and final on this one. It is perfection. I’d love to see pillows, window treatments, etc. … Any and all of your ideas!
    The kitchen is heavenly and the concrete floors are genius! Holly and Lauren make a great team!

  14. I agree w Linda. I think it’s a sad day if people have to “settle” for a home this nice. Not saying the homeowner feels this way, but this is the feeling I got from the author of this post. Considering when there are millions of people that don’t even have food to eat:( I’m sorry, it’s just how I feel!

  15. Simply beautiful! How refreshing – I love everything about this. Thanks for sharing the lovely ideas and inspiration! It’s so discouraging whenever you see designs that are unbelievably expensive.

  16. Beautiful home! Love the kitchen and I love the black counter tops in the bathroom. Ya’ll made that curved sofa look perfect in that spot. Ok. Now I want to redo my house.

  17. Mary Duffy says

    amazing! And thank you for sharing your sources. I can you tell me what drapery rods you used with the ritva panels from Ikea?

    • Yes! I too would love to know what rods! they are great. And also traditional drapery pins?

    • Mary and Rachelle –
      I love these rods I found at Target, and the price point!

      Unfortunately they don’t sell the longer rods online, so I had to drive 45 minutes to the nearest Target (small town Texas y’all 😉

      I used traditional drapery pins and slide them through rings that I cut the “clips” off of. I know that sounds confusing, so if I can figure out how to add a photo, I’m happy to share.

      • Mary Duffy says

        Thankyouthankyouthankyou! I just saw those at target this week but I didn’t buy them because I couldn’t figure out how to get the curtain on the rod without having to take the whole rod down each time–thanks for solving that mystery for me. I get what you mean about the clips and the rings…but how did you attach the drapery pins to the panel? One for each loop? It doesn’t look like you pleated it first. I’m going to try the trick of training the panels after I get them up. Great idea.

        Can’t wait to see the faux moulding in the family room. I’m sure it will be amazing!

        • Mary –
          Here’s what I did – but I apologize for trying to explain it in words — I took a few pictures this morning, but I’m not sure how to add them here.

          Using wire cutters, I literally cut the clip off of each clip style drapery ring just above where the clip is attached, but leaving the small wire “ring” attached to the curtain ring. I used rings like these:

          (I know you can purchase proper rings, but I was standing in a Target sans children, and I saw a way to get the job done, so I just bought what was in front of me and made it work.)

          Then I slid the drapery pin through the small wire ring that is attached to the curtain ring. The back of the Ritva panels from Ikea have “pleaters tape” sewn across the top (it looks a bit different from the picture on the Ikea US website). There are lots of tiny slots sewn in this pleaters tape that you can slide the drapery pins through at your chosen interval. I ended up using 11 pins per side.

          I hope that helps a little!

  18. Way to go girl!!!! So pretty and lots of clever ideas and tricks. Love to read about new tricks for my bag. I forgot to mention that I ordered a post card from your shop when it first opened…”you are my sunshine” postcard that was later featured in a mag and still one of my favorite things in my home after my girl Sophia Sunshine. Brings me joy. Keep on shining your light! xo

  19. I Love it when you post!! It is just like a REALLY good magazine and I don’t want to put it down!
    Thank you for all your hard work!

  20. Mary duffy says

    Lauren, thank you for taking the time to respond with such detail! I’m headed to ikea and target tomorrow!

  21. I live in a 1968 Florida ranch house which I love but is SO far from the historic or farm type homes you usually show and which I adore. So this house is helpful to me. All traditional furniture would look outdated in my home and completely modern isn’t my style or even that of our house. This mix is perfect. Please show us the completed living room as I would like to see how you/she marry the very traditional wingback chairs with the mod leather sofa. I love our more modern leather sofas with very straight lines but need to mix it up a bit. Can’t wait to see more.

  22. Loved this post! I’m feeling so inspired from seeing Lauren’s beautiful home! I would love to know any tips on finding similar art off eBay!!

    • Anne –
      I typed a reply days ago, but it must not have loaded, I’m so sorry for the delay.

      I wish I had great tips, but I literally stumbled on this one. A small estate auction was listed on Ebay and there was a rug listed that I liked…well, I didn’t win the rug, but the art is an absolute favorite. I’ve since tried my hand at finding vintage art, and come up empty. If I learn any new tricks, I’ll be sure to share.

      Thanks for your kind comments!

  23. Christine says

    So well done! Will you share the name of black paint?

  24. Lauren your home is beautiful! I love the way you blend different styles and can create a polished classy home where so many kids can still be kids! Every room looks so comfortable and ready to be lived in by anybody. Love love love it! Can you please tell me where you found the sconces on your mantle? I already bought the ones from the bathroom so thank you!

  25. What a lovely home. I’ve done the same with the blue tape. My husband thinks I’m crazy, but I’m a visual person and it helps me a ton! I love those framed prints in the kitchen. Great idea!

  26. I think this house is inspirational. We are flooded with beautiful images of expensive interiors on Houzz, Pinterest, design magazines and blogs. I can see how it can be discouraging to someone without unlimited resources – how they could feel that they could never get that look. I think Lauren’s done a great job of creating a high-end look that is attainable. I think with a good eye and great shopping skills, a beautiful home is possible!

  27. What is the source for the three arm light fixture? I have been looking all over for an affordable one.

  28. Charlotte says

    This is spectacular and I thank you so MUCH for sharing! I’m trying to do the exact same thing with our 2000s house.

    Would LOVE a peak at her stairs…I see black?

    THANKS from Austin, TX

    • Charlotte- I don’t have a picture of the stairs, but I will say I’m less than thrilled with what we ended up with. There were some issues during construction and we’re working on a solution. Right now they are painted SW Tricorn black (which I love), but the finish is flat and not what I was envisioning. A little tweaking is on the master “list” ?

  29. What a beautiful space! Can you tell me what you did to finish the floor? What products you use and the steps you took? It’s beautiful and looks clean, simple, perfect…just what I’m looking to do with our space. Thank you in advance!

    • Laura – the finish on the concrete floors is called “diamond polish” in the trade. We had a concrete flooring company do it during construction, but I’ve seen it done post construction too. It might be a little tricky if you have your furniture in the house though, since they flood the floor during the process and use a giant polishing machine. It’s just a touch more $/sf than stained concrete, but I love the warm gray color of the raw concrete and it won’t “scratch” the way stained concrete can. So far it’s been amazingly durable. If you have a local company that will do stained concrete floors, you could check and see if they offer something like diamond polishing. Hope that helps!

  30. Any updates? Would love to see more photos!! I adore everything Lauren has done in this home!

  31. Are kitchen cabinets painted SW Alabaster, as well?

  32. Are the ceilings alabaster as well ?

  33. Jennifer Duenes says

    Really late posting here – I just saw this in a search and recognized Lauren’s home – she’s such a wonderful person and has made many spaces look beautiful over the years I have known her. She’s also one of the most generous people I know – when I was getting ready to go overseas she gave me many of her tubes of watercolor paints. I know she is using this home not just to bless her family, but others around her. Glad to see her and it featured on your blog!

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